It’s my birthday today so I’m taking it easy because I’m feeling a bit old. I think I might need some champagne… so for today only, there will be no heavy reading, wise cracks or sarcasm. No rants, advice or wise words. Just some photos from our magical trip to Santa’s Workshop in Flagstaff, Arizona, taken last weekend.
Santa’s naughty nice list 2016 has been a hot topic of conversation at home this week. The air is filled with excitement over the possibility of presents, with a hint of panic that maybe, just maybe she hasn’t quite made it. Following ‘Banned Google Interview Questions: Smashed by a Six Year Old‘, I thought I’d see what Elsie thought about people of power; and whether Santa had them on his naughty or nice list.
Who’s on Santa’s Naughty Nice List 2016? Interview with a Six Year Old
It was explained to Elsie that she would be given some names (no pictures) of famous people, and decide which side of Santa’s Naughty Nice List 2016 she thought they were on…
“Nice list. Because he’s been a really nice president and it’s made all of America a nice place to live.”
“Nice list. Because he’s the president now and he won. And he deserves a present from Santa for winning.”
“What kind of present do you think he’s like?”
“I think he’d like a bow tie. A red one or black one – those are ones that famous people wear, at like tea parties and stuff.”
“Umm… I don’t know. I have no idea.”
“Why wouldn’t she be on the nice list?”
“She might be on the nice list… if she is she might like some new clothes from Santa. If she is on the naughty list she will get coal.”
Kim Jong Un
“I have no idea what that guy is.”
“Where do you think he’s from?”
“What do you think Kim Jong Un might like for Christmas?”
“A beret. Because he’s French, and French painters normally wear berets.”
“Wait. I know…
Leonardo da Vinci! Are we talking about that guy?”
“Well… do you think Leonardo da Vinci would be on the naughty or the nice list?”
“Nice list. Because I know he’s a painter from Art class. And I think he would really want a new paintbrush or maybe a beret.”
“To match Kim Jong Un?”
“So they could hang out together?”
“But is he still alive?”
“Well… no. So maybe not.”
“I’m glad you know all about Leonardo da Vinci, but I was actually going to ask about Leonardo DiCaprio. Do you know who that is?”
“I do not know that guy.”
“Have you ever seen someone running, and they go like ‘that’ at the end (Mom does the Lightning Bolt).”
“Well… Deacon just goes like that over his eyes like ‘this’. But instead he just does it when he sneezes.”
“I think he might have got that from Usain Bolt.”
“What is a Usain Bolt?”
“That’s Usain Bolt??”
“He’s a super fast sprinter. He’s the fastest human of all time and the first man to break both the 100m and 200m World Records at the same time. So do you think he’s on the nice list or naughty list?”
“Nice list. Because he’s a super fast runner and I think he’d really like some new shoes coz sometimes he might even go into the mud.”
“No-one likes muddy shoes.”
“Oh yeah… I like that girl! I know some of her songs but I think she’s going to be on the nice list because she’s my favorite singer. And I think everyone likes her.”
“What do you think she might like for Christmas?”
“She might like some new sparkly shoes in silver. Or a new microphone?”
“I don’t know who he is.”
“Mark Zuckerburg is the person that started Facebook. Do you know what Facebook is?”
“You know… It looks like this (scroll through Facebook feed). When I take a picture I can put it on Facebook and show all my friends and family.”
“OK… How did he make it?”
“On his computer. He’s super clever.”
“So… it’s like he made his own website? Like you did?”
“Yeah, kind of. But a lot more people go on his website than mine. There are 1.79 billion Facebook users.”
“And you’re one of them?”
“I’m one of them, yes.”
“I might want to be one of them soon.”
“I think you might have to be 16. So do you think Mark is on the naughty or the nice list?”
“I just don’t know.”
Summing up Santa’s naughty nice list 2016:
“Well, we have a lot of people on the nice list. Can we think of anyone that might be on the naughty list?”
“I know… someone from Kindergarten. Sammy doesn’t believe in Santa so he may just definitely be on the naughty list this year.”
“So what do you reckon Sammy’s gonna get?”
“Um… maybe coal? Or an orange or a tangerine?”
“Aren’t tangerine’s good?”
(Shoulder shrug and all round unimpressed look at tangerines).
“I might be going on the naughty list.”
“Why might you be going on the naughty list?”
“Because you said I keep being rude, a lot.”
“Oh dear. Do you think you’ve made up for it?”
“You think you’ve done enough?”
“And what would you like if Santa puts you on the nice list?”
Mom Flu is a common condition that affects those with offspring. Symptoms include, but are not limited to:
Throat-on-fire syndrome coupled with ‘it feels like I’m drinking razor blades’;
General aches and slow motion walking because you feel your internal organs giggling whenever you move. Everything from your head to your vagina hurts.
Feeling cold in three layers, despite living in the desert where it’s still late 20’s in November.
Your kids totally ignore that you feel like crap and all your usual Mom duties are completed, despite body functions running at an estimated 2%.
The last of these symptoms is the most crucial indicator of a case of the Mom Flu. However, depending on the age of the child, you may get some acknowledgement of your condition. “You sound weird Mommy.” came from my six year old last night as I read her bedtime story.
Treatment of Mom Flu
There is no formal treatment for Mom Flu because no Mom has ever had the time or energy to go to the doctor. Therefore treatments usually include:
Digging through the medicine cabinet to find mostly out-of-date painkillers, and deciding if you’ll live if you take them.
Hugging a cup of tea for warmth and then remembering Mom’s don’t get to their cup of tea before its gone cold.
Savouring every moment of driving because at least everyone is strapped down and you can turn the music up.
Getting the kids to bed as early and you possibly can so you can follow suit. I was tucked up by 7.15pm last night… new personal best.
I’m going to stop being dramatic now as I’m starting to sound like I have Man Flu. I hate to think what would happen if Man and Mom Flu were combined… The world might just instantly implode.
I’ve been a little distant on social media this past week because I’ve had family in town to celebrate the Twins’ birthday. It’s these family members’ first visit to us since we moved to the US nearly three years ago, so we’ve enjoyed showing off the local sights and eating twice as much as we usually do. We love to have guests, but with all the fun also comes hard work and unplanned inconveniences. You know you’ve had family to stay when:
1. Your kids are behaving like total brats.
Is it because they’re being spoilt? Is it because you can’t face disciplining them in public? Maybe you’re ignoring them more than usual while you desperately slurp at wine, because it’s supposed to be fun for you too, right? No one knows. But sure enough your kids will act like total shit-bags.
2. You’ve lost the ability to multi-task.
Week in, week out, you totally boss at multi-tasking; but be sure it will all go out the window when family come to stay. You’ll wonder how you normally do it and give your previous week self a pat on the back.
3. You feel more hungover and stressed than usual.
4. The dog hasn’t been walked.
You may have also forgotten to feed it, and accidently locked it outside when you went to bed. Sorry puppy.
5. Someone’s ill.
Not only are your kids more accident prone while you have visitors, it is also customary for Family to bring a new virus to share. If coming from abroad, it is only fair to reciprocate this offering and send them home with a local pathogen to spread around their home country. Sharing’s caring after all.
6.Your countertops are full of crap.
What is all this crap that’s floating around my kitchen? Plastic bags, almost empty packets of crisps, cakes made a week ago that no-one’s comfortable throwing away in case someone gets upset. The latter also applies to the contents of the fridge. Suddenly you become a hoarder of left-overs, because everyone’s too polite to chuck away the remnants of Granny’s potato salad.
7. Lunchtime beers have become the norm.
8. You’ve only just remembered your inflatable bed has a hole and you should have chucked it last time family came to stay.
And will you throw it away this time? Probably not.
9. You’ve gained 1lb per day.
I’m pretty sure it has been scientifically proven that the 1lb a day rule applies to all members of the family over the age of 18. And remember it will take you 1lb per month to remove the family visit fat… it’s a science thing, don’t blame yourself.
10. Your bank account’s empty.
In fact, everyone’s bank account is empty. Money is just so much more fun to spank when family’s here to help.
I find the recovery period from family coming to stay is usually equal to the length of the visit. Therefore, I will likely spend the next week going to bed at 8pm, drinking just a little less white wine, and folding a lot of washing.
It was pleasure to have you Auntie Sarah, come visit again soon.
There are many reasons not to like Mondays, so instead I am here today to spread start-of-the-week love, and explain why I like Mondays and you should too…
1 Monday Morning Memes
Every Monday millions of people are trawling their social media with a large cup of coffee, because that’s pretty much all they’re capable of doing until past noon. Monday moaning is the perfect excuse for a meme, you know the sort of thing…
Once the morning haze has passed and the coffee has kicked in, you might take a moment to assess how you’re going to make it through the week. This could be organizing boardroom meetings, or planning packed lunches. Either way, Monday holds a certain optimism that this week… ‘I will do better’. For me, as an glass-half-full SAHM I genuinely believe every single Monday that this week…
I will go to bed with a clean kitchen;
I will walk the dog more;
I will be on time for school;
I will empty and sort the junk drawers;
I will do some ironing;
I will only take one very efficient trip to the grocery store;
Family and I will eat more fruit and vegetables;
I will empty the kitty litter box every day;
I will clean my car;
I will deal with my hospital bills;
I will catch up with all my friends and family;
I will teach my babies new tricks, like walking.
This does depend on your situation, but as a working Mom and a SAHM I have managed to enjoy that Monday moment of quiet. For me now it’s when my boys have their morning nap… as I’m writing this in fact. My daughter has been successfully dropped at school, the twins have had their breakfast and gone back to bed, and my husband is out at the office. Quiet… and it’s bliss (only I forgot to buy more milk so I don’t have my Monday morning cup of tea… ugh).
4 Empty Shops
Apologies for those stuck in the office, but us SAHMs get to indulge in off-peak everything and empty stores. Because of the walking cute-fest/freak show that is identical twins, I just love the opportunity to do my shopping on my own and in peace, which just is not possible at the weekend. After much experimentation I have worked out that our local Safeway at 8am is the emptiest shopping experience you’re going to get… such a pleasure. And if you’re fancy enough to head out to the mall, you can actually hear the naff music they play in the background.
5 Planning for the Weekend
The morning haze has cleared, you’ve had a quiet moment and the coffee and optimism have kicked in. You’ve shopped and cleaned the house a little (or booked meetings and cleared your inbox), and you now feel super organized and pumped for the week. All that’s left now is to start thinking about the weekend!
The Vegas presidential campaign debate starts in a matter of hours, and I can’t help think, who would win in a fight? Hilary Clinton or Theresa May? US v UK… What special skills would each leader bring to the ring? Which country is the greater power? I’m matching the ladies for this battle because Trump can’t be trusted around women anymore.
I appreciate I’m a little off-piste here as this is not my normal subject matter (whatever that is). But while we’re all consumed with the big ticket items like war, taxes, healthcare and employment, I would like to bring to your attention some things we can learn from our Atlantic neighbours. There are many first world problems both countries have successfully solved, yet they haven’t taken off on the other side of the pond. Here’s my US v UK showdown of first world problems, solutions, special skills and offerings. You decide who wins:
First world problems solved by the US:
Problem: Finding a parking space on the high-street and getting to the ATM in the rain when you’re already late for work. Solution: Drive-through ATM. Mind blown… It’s genius.
Problem: You want to walk your dog but the park says you have to keep it on a leash. You ignore this and get shouted at by parents of small children. Solution: Dog parks. Enclosed play areas for dogs to socialise and do their business, including waste bins, shady benches, water stations and sometimes even paddling pools and free poop bags.
Problem: You live beyond walking distance from school, yet if you drive and drop off outside the gates you get told off and moved on while causing a traffic jam. Solution: Car lines. You queue up, a teacher comes to the car door, picks up your kid, and you are free to drive straight to Starbucks (yes, you can get drive through coffee too!).
First world problems solved by the UK:
Problem: Sitting in the car in a daily traffic jam to commute to work. Solution: Public transport. Last year we moved from The Woodlands, Texas, a town with a population of 125,000 people and commutable to Houston. No trains and no buses.
Problem: You’re vacuuming the house and suddenly lose power. You turn to see the plug has pulled out of the wall socket… again. Solution: The three pin plug. UK plugs fit snuggly into the socket. The pins are chunky and there’s three of them – simple. UK wall sockets also have a switch for each outlet meaning you can switch of the power before pulling the plug instead of dodging the sparks.
Problem: You get to the supermarket (that’s a grocery store Team US), park up and find you can barely open the car door let alone lift a 30lb (that’s 2st 2lb Team UK) child out of the small space between the cars. Solution: Parent and child spaces. There is general acknowledgment in the UK that parents are all a bit special needs. So, the supermarkets provide wider spaces located close to the entrance to make our life easier. Team US you may lift your jaw from the floor at this point.
Special Skills of the US People:
Service with a smile – Miserable Brits like to call this being ‘fake’, but having lived here a while now I can assure you it is not. People are nice, work hard for tips and genuinely want you to have a nice day.
Charity – A borderline addiction for some, Americans are always raising money for something. The tax laws allow rebates for donations to schools or church, and there’s always a kid at the door selling cookies. You can’t knock community spirit and kindness, even if being badgered for money all the time is a tad annoying.
Pumping breast milk – Most working US mothers are stuck going back to the office when their babies are 6wks old. Despite this more mothers breastfeed their babes in the US than in the UK, because they are all busy pumping away at work to build up that freezer stash. Talk about multi-tasking.
Special Skills of the UK People:
Sense of humour teamed with a fancy accent – In your face Team US… think how many cookies Ricky Gervais could have sold when he was at school?
Vocabulary – Brits use nearly all the words Americans do but yet elaborate their conversation with many many more. These words are not only pleasing to the ear and often funny, but also weren’t used in the previous sentence. Living in the US, I am almost completely immune to the words ‘cute’ and ‘awesome’.
Stiff upper lip – When you bump into a fellow Brit down the pub and ask how they are, they will say they’re ‘good’ or ‘alright’ and move on. This may be despite having an ingrowing toenail removed, a two hour chemo session and a funeral earlier that day. Brits will put on a brave face no matter what, because there is a time and a place for those conversations, and it’s not the pub.
US Material Offerings:
BBQ food – Team UK I do not mean putting a frozen Birdseye patty on a disposable foil tray with coal in it;
Roads wide enough for two cars to pass each other – Driving on UK country roads is terrifying every time.
Pie – Apple, cherry, pumpkin, pecan, key lime, Mississippi mud…
Taking home leftovers – Taking home food you have paid for, which will otherwise be thrown in the trash, does not make you a peasant. All restaurants of all price ranges in the US will ask if you want your food boxed… Lunch tomorrow sorted.
UK Material Offerings:
Thick cut unsmoked back bacon – What is that? Go to Britain and find out.
Cars that run at 80mpg – Good old fashioned engineering and design, mixed with sensible purchasing, well done Brits. OK, the US gallon is smaller than the UK gallon, however that’s still 66mpg compared with the 18 I get in my mine.
Chocolate – The US do make chocolate, but you really don’t want to eat it.
Pubs – You can not beat a pint in a 300yr old pub when it’s cold and drizzly outside. The blazing fire, pub dog and a ceiling so low you have to duck as you enter. They won’t have ice or lemon, and the glasses will probably not shine, but it doesn’t matter. You can’t knock a good British pub.
In conclusion, before I waffle on any more, I’m ringing the final bell. US v UK, Hilary v Theresa… Who has solved more first world problems? Who has the superior skills and offerings? As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been here in the US for a while now and as a result, things are starting to rub off on me. I wouldn’t know which way to vote…You decide, and let me know your thoughts 😉